What is methotrexate and why is it prescribed?
Methotrexate is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). It reduces the activity of the body’s defence mechanism (immune system), which may be overactive in some conditions. Methotrexate modifies the underlying disease process to limit or prevent joint damage and disability, rather than simply treating the symptoms.
It’s a long-term treatment, so it may be 3–12 weeks before you start to notice the benefits. Unless you have severe side-effects (in which case please see a health professional) it’s important to keep taking methotrexate:
- even if it doesn’t seem to be working at first
- even when your symptoms improve (as it will help to keep the disease under control).
Methotrexate can be prescribed for people with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, vasculitis.
Methotrexate can also be used by doctors who treat other conditions that have nothing to do with arthritis. For example it is used to treat some forms of cancer, but the dose used for cancer is usually much higher than for arthritis.